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  • stephplant6

Your baby is normal.

Updated: Jun 24, 2022

In modern, Western society, the way we think about and talk about babies doesn't make biological or evolutionary sense. The stories we tell ourselves and each other about babies isn't accurate so no wonder, when we leave the hospital, with something amazing that we have created, we may feel a little (or extremely!) overwhelmed.

The way the media portrays babies and parents is often with parents living a life relatively unaffected by the arrival of a baby. There is no mention of frequent wakes, cluster feeds, wanting to be held, needing support to fall asleep. So there's no real surprise that so many of us have expectations that don't meet the reality of parenting when it comes to sleep.

For many of us, it can feel like we're doing something wrong, or that there's something wrong with us or with our baby. This can cause feelings of overwhelm, anxiety or failure. That's why I think normalising infant sleep is such an important thing to do. And it's why I'm here.

So what does normal infant sleep look like?

Well... what a question! The reason that this is so hard to answer is that normal sleep looks different in every house. No two babies are the same, no two parents, no two households or sets of circumstances. Because of this, it's really hard to say what every baby should be doing at different stages, as this will depend hugely on so many factors. While there are different ages or developmental milestones when parents might notice sleep going a bit squiffy, these aren't the same for all babies.

Normal infant sleep is something I'll go into a lot of detail in over the coming blog posts, but for now - these are some key points:

  • It is normal for your baby to wake up between sleep cycles. This is true at any age.

  • It is normal for your your baby to need support to get to sleep.

  • It is normal for your baby to want to sleep next to or on you. You are their safe space.

  • It is normal for babies to feed to sleep.

  • It is normal for baby sleep to fluctuate.

So it's normal, so what?

Knowing something is normal can help us to adjust our expectations on baby sleep. In a study of over 350 new mothers, over 50% of reported that the baby books they read felt more anxious as a result of reading them. And there are really only 2 outcomes, either your baby does what the book says, and you are satisfied OR your baby is not doing what the book says and it feels crap.

My biggest tips for accepting normal

  1. Unfollow any social media accounts and get rid of any books that make you feel rubbish.

  2. Don't look at your clock/phone throughout the night - you don't need it to tell you how your night was.

  3. Do what feels easiest (safely) for your family right now, you can always change things later.

  4. Tune in to your baby and get to know their cues. When you're curious about their cries and what their behaviour means, you'll know best how to respond, better than any app or book will!

References Harries, V. and Brown, A., 2017. The association between use of infant parenting books that promote strict routines, and maternal depression, self-efficacy, and parenting confidence. Early Child Development and Care, 189(8), pp.1339-1350.

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